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Common colors and patterns in Miniature Dairy Goats

Several colors and patterns are common to all breeds of goats.  In Miniature Dairy Goats, these can include those found in standard dairy goats as well as in Nigerian Dwarfs, and combinations of both.  Sometimes different descriptive language is used to describe these colors and markings.  Below are some of the commonly seen colors and marking patterns.  You can refer to these descriptions below when completing applications for registration. Understand that this is not a study of goat color genetics, only a set of descriptors for the purpose of clarifying colors and patterns for registration purposes.  Many nigerian color pages on the internet are incorrect.  All of the colors listed below have been in use for many years prior to the arrival of nigerians in the US.


Most  of the color descriptions come directly from the standard goat world, and TMGR prefers to remain consistent with the commonly accepted terms used to describe colors and patterns from the original registries, instead of modifications that have been proposed and used by newer (e.g Nigerain Dwarf) breeds.  We also wish to keep the terminology clear enough for everyone to understand.  Thus, descriptors such as bezoar, peacock, goulet, etc. will not be described here.


Remember that baby kids will sometimes change colors when they mature or are clipped for the show ring.  This list does not represent ALL possible color and pattern combinations but can be used as a guide.   If you have questions about the coloring of an animal, you can ask on the TMGR Facebook pages.


Color in goats is comprised of two basic choices, either black based or red/tan based.  These base colors are modified by several factors; the patterns that overlay them; and the white spotting and other white markings commonly seen.  When trying to determine the color of an animal, ignore any white on them and concentrate on the base color or pattern first.  For additional information about coloration and patterning in goats, search the internet for articles by Dr. Phil Sponenberg, DVM, the leading authority on the genetics of color in many species.  Do remember that color descriptions here are for descriptive purposes only, and not a scientific treatise on goat color genetics.

Base Colors


True white but also can be a maximum expression of white spotting on a black or red based animal.

Cream ranges from nearly white to almost red.  Similar to the base color of a palomino horse, a dark cream is sometimes called 'gold'.

A dark cream variation commonly called "gold' by nigerian breeders.

Ranging from light red to the very dark red sometimes called 'Kingwood Red' after a well known nigerian buck of this color.


Also called chocolate, brown is a dilute of black.  Often associated with tan swiss markings.  Chocolate can vary from a light brown to mahogany and may appear to be black in kids.

Easily mistaken for black, mahogany actually has a brown undertone.  Often with black points (lower legs).
They may also have lighter hair in the area of the flanks.

True black is recessive, and the black does not have a red or brown cast.


The 'Alpine" Patterns

Chami animals are tan to red in body color, always with a darker dorsal stripe,  a dark martingale on bucks, dark markings on the front of lower legs, and dark ears and facial stripes.  They can have facial stripes independent of the chami markings. They usually have dark bellies but other factors can cause light bellies as well.  The red or 'bay' variation is traditional in Oberhaslis. 

Cou Blanc

Cou Blanc means 'white neck' with black or dark hindquarters.  They have light markings on the stifle area of the hind legs, the opposite of the buckskin markings.

Cou Clair

Cou Clair (Peacock) means 'clear', or tan, cream, or off white neck and front quarters with black or dark hindquarters.

Two Tone Chamoisee

Light front quarters with brown or grey hindquarters. This is not a cou blanc or cou clair as these terms are reserved for animals with black hindquarters.

Cou Noir

Cou Noir, or "Black Neck" refers to the reverse of Cou Blanc (White Neck).  A rare color pattern in Mini's,  cou noirs have a black neck with a light/white hindquarters.


The red version of Chamoisee, (Blackbelly/Badgerface) with black dorsal stripe, ears, facial markings, and lower legs.  Most also have black bellies.  The correct color in the Mini Oberhasli breed.


The term Sundgau comes from the original Alpine imports, indicating animals which were BLACK, with white 'SWISS' markings.  Sundgau correctly ONLY refers to BLACK and WHITE animals, NOT black and tan, chocolate and tan,

Toggenburg colored, etc. 


Many people erroneously think any animal with colored points is Sundgau, this is incorrect.  Sundgaus are ONLY BLACK with WHITE markings. ***

*** Sundgau Defined:



SUNDGAU (sundgow)—black with white markings such as underbody, facial stripes, etc.

Alpines International

SUNDGAU (sundgow) – black with white markings such as underbody, facial stripes, etc.

Canadian Goat Society

Sungau – black with white markings such as under body, facial stripes, etc.

American Goat Society

Color patterns in the Alpine are often referred to by French names:

sundgau (black with white facial stripes, white below knees and hocks, white on either side of the tail),

The "Swiss" Patterns

This animal is SUNDGAU, but also exhibits the SWISS pattern, as does the Toggenburg animal to the right.

Sundgau is a SWISS pattern, but only in black and white ***.


The traditional color pattern in Toggenburgs, this SWISS color pattern is always some shade of gray or brown with SWISS markings in either white or light cream, with white SWISS markings being preferred.  The body coat should be solid colored without spotting.

Black and Tan

A black body with red or tan swiss pattern markings.  The dilute form is chocolate and tan.  Black and tans can also have light or self colored bellies.


Chocolate and Tan

The chocolate/tan "dilute" variation of the black and tan.  This doe also happens to have a tan belly, but many do not.

The Buckskins

The Buckskin (San Clemente) pattern consists of a light tan to dark red body with an overlay of black or dark chocolate on the back of the neck, over the shoulder area (mantle) and the top of the tail.  There is always a dark marking down the side of the stifle joint to the hock. Faces are dark with light facial stripes.

light buckskin
Light Buckskin

This Buckskin pattern shows a very light body with an overlay of black  on the back of the neck, over the shoulder area (mantle) and the top of the tail.  She still has a dark marking down the side of the stifle joint to the hock. Her face is dark with light facial stripes.

red buckskin
Red Buckskin

Here we have a Buckskin pattern in dark red with an overlay of black. The back of the neck, over the shoulder area (mantle) and the top of the tail are black.  The dark marking down the side of the stifle joint to the hock is there, and her head are dark with light facial stripes.

White Markings

White Belt

The mid portion or barrel of the animal is banded in white all or nearly all the way around the body.

Broken Belt

The white band on the mid section is broken by color and therefore incomplete, but continues on the other side of the barrel.

Splashed White

Random white patches and spots on a colored animal.


Generally a mostly white animal with colored spots of any color.  Often the result of maximum expression of white spotting, the underlying color pattern is usually visible.  A 'maximum white' animal may only show a small spot of base color somewhere on it's body.  Its base color and pattern is still there underneath the white.

Broken Chamoisee
White poll spot

Any chamoisee animal with white belt, markings or splashes/spots on the body can be referred to as a broken chamoisee.

 A white spot on the top of the head (poll).

White Blaze
Bald Face

White stripe or marking down the center of the face.

A white face with the white extending past the eyes or muzzle on the sides.

Other white markings can occur on the lower legs (socks), tail, ears, and lips.  Any of these can be used to add to the animal's description.



A dark base coat interspersed with varying amounts of white hairs.  Often the roaning is more apparent on the front of the animal.

Moon Spots

Round spots of color on a base coat either darker or lighter.  Not white.  Common in nubians and some nigerians.


An unusual variation of white with a colored overlay of darker hairs resembling a lacy pattern.

Frosted ears and nose

Frosting is a white speckled appearance on ears and noses.


A brown/chocolate animal with white poll spot, frosted ears and nose, white belt, and white leg markings and tail.

Light Chamoisee, white poll

Light chocolate and tan, broken belt with spotting

What color/pattern is this?

Hint: she's not white.

Is it Buckskin or Is it Chamoisee?

Buckskin heads are dark or black.  They have dark cheeks.  They have light facial stripes.  Notice the dark hair color on the back of the neck (not a dorsal stripe).

Chamoise heads are brown or tan (or red).  They are usually the same color as the body.  Chamoises can have facial stripes but they can be either lighter or darker than the body coat.  There are no dark cheek patches.

Note the dark coloration on back of neck which runs down over the shoulder area.  This dark mantle or cape over shoulders is not a martingale.  Note dark patch on hind leg between stifle joint and hock.  These are always present in buckskin.

A light chamoisee doe and chamoise buck.  Both still have dark dorsal stripes, not a cape running down over the shoulder area.  The buck exhibits the typical martingale of black along his shoulder.  Notice the absence of the dark rear leg marking.

3 days old - Is this kid cou blanc?  Does he have a white neck?  Does he have a black rear?  No to both questions.


Sometimes it's a good idea to wait a while before trying to determine what color an animal really is.....

The same animal at 3 months.  Is he now cou clair since he has a tan neck? No - He is chamoise, because he has the black dorsal stripe, dark legs and facial trim of chamoise.  In addition he is a two tone:  lighter in front, darker in the rear.

Here he is at 15 months old.  Pretty obvious now, isn't it?  He's clearly a two tone chamoise.  He is also the classic 'black belly' variety.

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